Wednesday started, as usual, with my regular sewing class. I’ve made a few things so far: cushions for my great nephews bed and for my great nieces dolly cot or pram; napkins; dressing-up clothes and various tote bags. Totes because I always need a bag that will take not just my shopping but which carries the pages of my screenplay, or a book, or my sewing kit not necessarily at the same time and I can take more than one with me because they are light.
They are pretty things not like hawking around a rough brown school satchel. Those gosh awful leather bags that hung on your back stuffed with school text books and exercise books. Some of them had one large wallet on the front that housed erasers, pencils, boiled sweets. When we walked they bounced and we looked like an army of deranged Ninja turtles on a trampoline. Sometimes they were so full that only one of the two buckle straps fastened and the seams gaped where they had been stretched beyond their stress point. I gouged my name through the leather with a compass then filled it with ink. Others painted flowers on them or the names of pop stars. I remember one girl had the name Matt Monro on her bag. Pop star?
I wasn’t into music that much. My mum, now, had loads of vinyl records and played them nearly all day on her Dansette 3-speed record player (which was supposedly bought for me when I passed the eleven plus) and which was eventually replaced by a Hi Fidelity radiogram – “a proper piece of furniture” she would insist and regularly polished its case and legs. But that didn’t last long. Mum wasn’t hot on housework.
Both items had three speeds: 78, 45 and 331/3. She had some records that dated back to the early nineteen hundreds and were sized as 12” records made from some hard, easy breakable material, but she couldn’t play them. She inherited them from Gran Mayo. I remember Gran playing them because she had what I believe she called a phonograph but which to me was a gramophone complete with changeable needles, an ornate arm that looked like a trumpet that you placed onto the grooves and a handle which ‘wound up’ the machine. I thought it was hilarious when it had wound down and someone had to dash to crank the handle to bring it back to listening speed. My Gran must have been fed-up with some of the artists because she’d melt down those old records on her black range and squeeze them somehow into waves, a frozen black sea. She put three holes in them, threaded chain or maybe string and hung them from the ceiling as plant trays. I learned to dodge the trailing Tradescantia. People are still doing that today as the photo proves. She didn’t paint them, though.
Anyway, at home, I’d be woken up to the songs of South Pacific or Mario Lanza vying for air time with the vacuum cleaner. Honestly! Couldn’t a girl sleep?
I was still listening to a wind-up record player as late as 2002 because my friend, John, had bought one several years earlier. He was the envy of the neighbourhood because he had music when the electric went off, which was frequently, and he made sure to play it loudly.
He and I had some fun with it. We checked out some second hand shops, antique shops, fairs for old records together and separately. Some nights we’d dress up and dance to the Charleston or the Cha Cha or the Lindy Hop. Not that we danced the way they were supposed to be done. The latter was way before my time and I did a kind of jive to it. On my own. John wasn’t a great dancer. He preferred to make his moves in solitary splendour. It was a joy, an exuberance of pleasure, I suppose. John has passed on now but never forgotten.
I’m sidetracked. The next thing I’m making in my sewing class is a weekend bag with a matching tote and clutch and maybe even a cosmetic purse: useful for carrying all my sewing gear as well as clothing and toiletries for all those weekends away. Ha! Future sewing projects include a dress for my birthday party, 1930’s style, and a Regency style frock for a performance of Pride and Prejudice at Malahide Castle in July. I bought the Regency style pattern, Simplicity 4055, and I’m going for the layered dress, of course, which requires twice as much fabric. Another pattern that interests me is a 1930’s copy in PDF that I download. I am supposed to make the paper pattern which is a similar system to Lutterloh’s Golden Rules pattern maker. I checked it out on the Internet and it is amazing. If I buy it, I hope my sewing teacher, Kathleen, will understand it better than I. Watch this space.
Now I come to link the subjects of this blog because I went to a Vintage sale in the evening. While there was no radiogram on offer there were plenty of dresses, hats, shoes, scarves and bags from last century (plus nibbles, wine and coffee). If I could buy appropriate era dresses then I wouldn’t have to make them. Alas, I am what can conservatively be called a big lady, so there wasn’t anything. I did find a dress but it looked dreadful on me. Not the fault of the dress. The fault was my shape which spoiled the dress.
Part of the proceeds from the sale was going to a MS charity and I was eager to buy a bag and jewellery. I know they always fit. I’ll go back to the Vintage shop when I am looking for accessories to team with both period dresses. I have had a thought. I may not need anything because I still have jewellery from my mum so I will need to dig through that and see if there is anything suitable.
Using something of my mum’s would be marvellous for the 1930’s themed party. I chose that era because my mum and dad were around then: Dad was twenty in 1939 and Mum was sixteen. It is a kind of thank-you for having me sixty-five years ago. A piece of her jewellery would make her even closer.
My lovely mum and dad. I have a powerful longing to see them and to hold them again.